Summer’s winding to a close and the weather is (eventually) cooling down, but our vinyl selection is just heating up! A lot of collector’s edition vinyl is hitting the Vinyl Store’s shelves in September, including exclusive colored vinyl pressings of new albums by Paul Simon and Paul McCartney and a special pressing of Joan Baez’s 1960 debut. In addition, we have new records coming in from Carrie Underwood, Willie Nelson, and much more! Keep checking back every month to see what’s new at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store.
Cry Pretty, by Carrie Underwood
Cry Pretty is Carrie Underwood’s sixth album, but it’s very much an album of firsts: it’s her first album with Capitol Records Nashville, and her first time coproducing an album. Her performance of the album’s title track at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards received much critical praise and topped the Digital Songs chart the week it was released, another first for Underwood. So yeah, she’s gotta be feeling pretty good about this record’s potential, and we don’t blame her. “Cry Pretty” is a soulful, dynamic song about not being able to hide one’s emotions forever, and it sets the stage for what’s sure to be Carrie’s best record yet.
My Way, by Willie Nelson
It’s hard to imagine two people as different as Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson being friends, but they shared a mutual respect and admiration Willie expresses on My Way, his new album of Sinatra covers. As it turns out, Nelson’s freewheeling vocal delivery is a great fit for these songs, proving the pliancy of the Great American Songbook; no matter who sings them, or how, they still resonate. “Summer Wind” is particularly well-suited to Nelson’s playful singing style, and the unashamed, confident lyrics of “My Way” apply to him perhaps even more than Sinatra. Nelson also duets with Norah Jones on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” in a fantastic pairing.
Joan Baez, by Joan Baez
There aren’t a lot of debut albums preserved by the Library of Congress, so that should tell you something about Joan Baez’s first record, pressed onto red vinyl as a Barnes & Noble exclusive. Released in 1960, it gave the era’s burgeoning folk revival a major shot in the arm; not only was Joan decades younger than most other female folkies at that time, she had an incredible soprano voice that, frankly, blew everyone else out of the water. The pitch and vocal clarity of “Silver Dagger” and “Little Moses” are unreal, and her take on “House of the Rising Sun” might be the best of all time.
Chicago Plays The Stones
Modern Chicago blues musicians take on the Rolling Stones on this unique album, which demonstrates how much the Stones’ music took from, and gave back to, the blues community. Chicago-based blues troupe The Living History Band play twelve Stones songs recomposed in classic Chicago blues fashion, meaning there’s plenty of harmonica, muddy guitars, and roadhouse bump ‘n’ grind tempos to be found here. Buddy Guy duets with Mick Jagger on “Heartbreaker,” while Keith Richards pairs up with Jimmy Burns for “Beast of Burden.” Billy Branch’s smooth, seductive cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” is this album’s highlight, and proves the true versatility of blues music.
In the Blue Light, by Paul Simon
Pressed onto blue vinyl as a Barnes & Noble exclusive, In the Blue Light revisits ten of Simon’s favorite songs from his 50-year career. Not only does Simon revisit these songs, he rewrites them, freshening up the compositions and arrangements with the help of chamber ensemble yMusic, the National’s Bryce Dessner, and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, among others. With help like that, making a great album looks pretty easy, and Simon makes it seem even easier: every track on this record succeeds. Our personal favorites are his new takes on “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor,” “René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War,” and “Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy.”
Egypt Station, by Paul McCartney
Named after one of his own paintings, Egypt Station is Sir Paul’s first album of new music in five years. Wanting to make an album with a cohesive feel, McCartney (and producers Ryan Tedder and Greg Kurstin) modeled Egypt Station after a long and pleasant train journey, with many unique stops along the way to a specific destination. There are ballads (“I Don’t Know”) and meditative acoustic numbers (“Happy With You”) alongside the kind of pop-rock McCartney is famous for (“Come on to Me,” “People Want Peace”), before ending on the adventurous, multi-movement “Despite Repeated Warnings.”
Love is Here to Stay, by Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
Tony Bennett seems determined to release an album with everyone on Earth, and his latest project is a collaboration with Diana Krall; together, they sing the music of the Gershwins on Love Is Here to Stay. Pressed onto opaque red vinyl as a collector’s item sold exclusively through Barnes & Noble, this album has solo tracks from both Bennett and Krall, but the duets are where Love Is Here to Stay really shines. In particular, “S’Wonderful,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me, “My One and Only,” and “I’ve Got A Crush on You” are outstanding. “Fascinating Rhythm” is another standout, and was also the song that began Bennett’s career in the first place.